When I think about my many photos of Vermont, this one has long been one of my favorites. And like so many of my photos, this one has a story about combining timing, location knowledge, and weather. They all aligned to let me take this photo, and any one of them could have ruined it otherwise. Thankfully, the end result is a nearly perfect capture of Vermont as a place and a feeling.
I took this photo on a trip over Labor Day in 2014, and like many of my Vermont trips, this one featured torrential rain. It’s a recurring theme with the place, although I suppose all that water is how it gets the “green” part of being called the Green Mountain State. We were visiting for the first time since moving from Massachusetts to Colorado, and we had booked a little room at the Lareau Farm Inn, which so happens to be attached to the magically delicious American Flatbread in Waitsfield.
At the same time, I was in a bit of a photography funk. Since moving to Colorado, I hadn’t yet found the time or inspiration to take photos I liked, and I really missed New England. I wanted to come to Vermont and take something special, and the rain was totally cramping my spirit. Now there are plenty of tutorials and guides out there about how to take great photos in the rain (I’ve even done a few myself!), but that wasn’t what I had in my head. I really wanted, no I needed to find that New England light I missed so much.
The weather forecast gave me some hope. The rain was supposed to clear on Sunday night into Monday morning, which meant there was the possibility that the light and weather would be special for a Monday sunrise. I set an early alarm and went to bed on Sunday night still hearing loud rain drops falling outside, and when my alarm went off in the morning I almost just stayed in bed. Waking up early on a vacation is hard, and the weather outside was still gray, foggy, and unimpressive. But it was my last day in Vermont, so I found some energy to get moving just to see if I could find anything out there to photograph.
It was when I got outside that the ah-hah moment clicked. It was gray because it was still dark out, not because the weather was poor. In fact, there was a lot of promise for great light – if only I could find a good subject. Fortunately, I have a mental mapping of several locations near Waitsfield that could be good photos if the light were right. (I have these mappings because I’ve taken endless photos of these places when the light was terrible.)
I had a hunch I should check out this particular spot. I’ve tried to photograph this barn and its silos several times, but I have always struggled to get a result I liked. This combination of light and weather proved to be the perfect moment to capture this setting. Also, in the background behind the barn is the historic Inn at Round Barn Farm – another picturesque place I’ve never found a way to photograph to my liking (usually because it’s mobbed by weddings). Hanging in the sky is a layer of fog that perfectly captured the golden glow of the sunrise. It also provided a soft blanket over the mountains, giving them a sense of ambiance and majesty.
Sometimes the weather works and sometimes it doesn’t. But when the weather aligns with your creative vision, the results can be really special.
(Technically, this photo is a 3-shot HDR to capture the dynamic range of the ground all the way to the bright sky.)